This article is from 11/12/13
Freddie Dunau is a national champion.
In 2011, he and his cousin captured a title at the Hershey Nationals – in hip hop dancing.
That’s the just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to extra curricular activities for the St. Anthony’s senior, a student with a weighted average over 100 and a 2220 SAT score. He coaches a breakdancing team and a gymnastics squad. (Dunau is a gymnast as well). He rides unicycles. And, of course, he’s an accomplished wrestler.
“He’s a very special kid,” said his club coach, Craig Vitagliano of Ascend. “He’s a Renaissance man.”
Indeed he is. A number of elite schools noticed his impressive resume during the recruiting process. However, he’s now off the market as he announced recently that he will attend the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania after considering colleges such as Columbia, Harvard and NYU.
“After my visit to Penn, I felt like I knew where I wanted to be,” the future Division I 149-pounder said. “Everyone was very welcoming and it seemed like a really good environment for me. It’s nice to know where I’m going. Now I have a lot of pressure off for the rest of the year.”
Dunau will be joining another CHSAA alum, Andrew Lenzi (Fordham Prep), in Philadelphia. Lenzi was a New York State champion, an accomplishment that Dunau hopes to repeat. But first, he has another goal in mind.
“I want to be a four-time Catholic [CHSAA] state champion this year,” Dunau said. “A few people placed four times, but not many have won it all four years. I would be part of a select group to accomplish that.”
He’ll be the favorite to do so, likely at 138 pounds. He won his first CHSAA title as a freshman 96 pounder and then went on to make an impact at the state tournament.
“I knew I wanted to wrestle in Albany,” he said of his ninth grade campaign. “Getting there was awesome. When I first got there, I was a little bit nervous, but once I was on the mat, I blocked everything out and it was just like any other match. I didn’t pay attention to the crowd.”
It’s no surprise that a loud arena didn’t faze Dunau. After all, he performed in front of larger audiences at Madison Square Garden as a four-year member of the Knicks City Kids.
“I was on the dance team that performed at Knicks home games until I was 13,” he said. “We’d do hip hop routines, flips and all kinds of tricks.”
No tricks were needed by Dunau in that first appearance in the state capital in 2011 as he took fifth place at 96 pounds as a freshman with three wins, including a major and a pin.
He expected to achieve more as a sophomore at 106 pounds. However, Dunau’s return trip to Albany didn’t quite go as planned.
“I thought I had a really good shot to win the state championship that year,” he said. “I wasn’t feeling well and when it came time to weigh in, I had 102 fever. It was extremely challenging to make weight.”
He did, and actually pinned his first opponent. However, he lost his next two bouts and went home without a second medal.
“One of the things I always pride myself on is good endurance,” he said. “I don’t think up to that point I had ever lost a match because I got tired. But I felt like I had no energy whatsoever. When I watch the videos of myself, it was like I was crawling to the center of the mat. It was disappointing. It made me angry that I didn’t wrestle the way I knew I could. It definitely motivated me.”
That motivation paid off in a 24-3 record as a junior in 2012-13 at 126 pounds.
When the brackets were released for the New York championships, Dunau saw that he was set to face former NYS champion and fourth seed Mark West of Hauppauge in round one. West was one of the favorites after capturing the Suffolk County crown in a loaded bracket in which eventual state champion TJ Fabian (now at Sacred Heart) took third.
“At first, I was a little bit nervous, but then I figured if I was going to wrestle [West] at some point, it might as well be first,” Dunau said. “I found that my style works well against his because he did a lot of moves that I have counters for. It worked out well.”
It did, as Dunau came out on top by a 7-3 score. He continued on with a 1-0 victory over Mike Raccioppi of Minisink Valley before losing in the semifinals to Fabian. Dunau then split a pair of bouts in the consolations to earn fifth place for the second time in his career.
But despite the podium finish, that contest against Fabian remains fresh in his mind. Especially since he estimates that he’s viewed it at least 60 times.
“I watched that match over and over and over again and I know what mistakes I made," he said. "I’ve been working hard to correct them and hopefully that leads me to win it this year.”
Adding a state title to the resume? It would just be another achievement for a “Renaissance Man” heading to the Ivy League.
Freddie Dunau wanted to thank the members of his family. He said “they take me everywhere I need to go, support me at all my matches, whether they’re in Ohio or Long Island, and are just great people.”